Books + Music + Movie recs for Each Hogwarts Houses

Hullo, world! 

I do so apologise that I forgot to post last week. I was at a 3-day intensive karate camp feat. 6 training sessions which was each around 2 hours long. Yes, it sounds kind of gruelling, but it was super fun! I learnt two new katas–Saifa and Tekki 1. Plus, if you remember me going on about the Tokyo Olympics’ karate results, you can probably piece those two together…

Today, I wanted to do something fun and light! I was initially planning to write a Complete Narnia Review since I re-read the entire series for the umpteenth time, yet realised that’s kind of…also intense? So, instead, I’ll be sharing the Books + Music + Movie recs for Each Hogwarts Houses from another fandom I’m re-reading–Harry Potter!

🦁Gryffindor🦁

– The Illuminae Files

-The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

– My Hero Academia

– Stand By Me/Dead Poet’s Society

– Attack on Titan

– Beethoven Symphony no. 5, Dvorak Symphony no. 9

> My thoughts

A. This was one of the most fun lists to come up! I love the Gryffindor energy and their Shonen Jump vibes. 🙂

B. At the same time, it’s probably the second most-removed from my own personality…which is another reason it makes me kind of excited about it.

C. Random thing, but my fav. Gryffindor character is probably Hermione and the Weasleys. (Sorry, Harry!)

🦡HUFFLEPUFF🦡

– To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

– I Capture the Castle

– March Comes Like A  Lion

– 100 Days of Sunlight

– The Sound of Music/To Kill A Mockingbird

– Tchaikovsky Waltz of the Flower, Delius Coppelia

> My Thoughts

A. This one has the warm, fuzzy vibe that I totally want to stay soaked in!!

B. I think that Hufflepuff is the most removed from my own personna–although I’m still a nice person, I do swear–so I wish I can be more relaxed and be at-home. ☺️

C. My fav. Hufflepuff is Newt and Cedric. Obviously.

🦅RAVENCLAW🦅

– The Secret History

– The Picture of Dorian Gray

– Sorcery of Thorns

– The Promised Neverland

– Inception/Interstellar

– Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto no.2, Debussy Clair de Lune

> My Thoughts

A. This is my house!! So obviously, a lot of my tastes and favourites are reflected in the recs…

B. I really love the intellectual and magical vibes of Ravenclaw. I also love the pursuit of wisdom and ideas, too!!

C. My fav. Ravenclaw of all time is Luna. She’s also probably my fav. character in all of HP 😉

SLYTHERIN

– Six of Crows

– Crime and Punishment

– Wicked Saints

– Tokyo Ghoul

– Schindler’s List/Goodwill Hunting

– Verdi’s Requiem, Chopin’s Funeral March

> My Thoughts

A. Personally, I think that Ravenclaw and Slytherin are THE dark academia houses in HP. Which, btw, is saying I loved them to pieces 😆

B. If I was not in Ravenclaw, I’d love to be in Slytherin despite their bad rep. I love the grungy-vibes and everything angsty about this house.

C. My fav. Slytherin character is Draco and Severus and Regulus!!

And that’s it for today! 

Thank you for reading! Which Hogwarts house do you belong in? Do you have any favourites in the list? What books/movies/music would you recommend in your house? Let me know in the comments below; I’d love to chat with you!

7 + 1 Studio Ghibli Movies to Watch This Summer

Hullo, world!  

I’ve been waiting for this week to come because…

  1. Ghibli is my life
  2. It’s almost my blogiversary!!!

Yes, this is actually happening. I still can’t believe it’s going to be two years since I began blogging here at SJ Barnard and I’ve loved it all the way, albeit the earlier days when I was floundering. I’ve met so many fellow bloggers who share a passion for reading, writing, and screaming about fandoms, I can’t quite fathom what I’ll do without it. 

I’m thinking of doing a Q & A, so shoot me your questions in the comments section at the end. 🙂

Now that the introductions are underway, let’s dive straight into today’s post! 

1. The Wind Rises (2013)

Rating: PG, Romance, War

This is one of my absolute favourite Studio Ghibli films! It’s loosely based on the life of Horikoshi Jiro, who designed the famous Zero fighter plane during WWII. 

What I Love About This Story:

  • The Sky. Miyazaki’s love for planes are displayed at its best here
  • Taisho~Showa era vibes. Esp. the fusion between the western and Japanese culture
  • Undertone wars. The way it slowly encroaches upon every aspect of the story is haunting

2. Howl’s Moving Castle (2004)

Rating: PG, Romance, War, Magic

This is the famous (or infamous) movie loosely inspired by Diana Wynne Jones’ book of the same title. I know there’s a lot of opinions out there, but can we just all agree on Howl’s supremacy??? 

What I Love About This Story:

  • Howl & Sophie. I don’t care if it’s book Sowl or movie Sowl. Or is it Hophie??
  • The Moving Castle. I mean, come on, it’s pretty cool you get to see it cranking and puffing along!
  • The world & soundtrack. HWC’s OST is one of my favourites!!!

3. From Up On Poppy Hill (2011)

Rating: PG, Romance, Thematic Elements?

Set a year before the  1964 Tokyo Olympics in port city Yokohama, FUOPH follows Mel and fellow classmates trying to save a wartime relic clubhouse from destruction. 

What I Love About This Story:

  • Mid-Showa vibes. I know, I’m kind of obsessed with the 20th century. 
  • Retro-Vintage Academia vibes. The “Latin Quarter” is absolutely the best club house in the world. I want to live there!!
  • Yokohama. I just love that city. I miss it. 😭

4. Ponyo (2008)

Rating: G, Thematic Elements, Magic

Okay, before anything, this was my childhood movie along with My Neighbour Totoro. I was a kid when it came out in the theatres, and I still remember we sang this for our sports meet in elementary!!

Ahem.

Anyhow, it’s a super cute story about a goldfish princess who wants to become human meeting a boy named Sousuke, very loosely inspired by the Little Mermaid and Japanese legends, IDK.

What I Love About This Story:

  • The Ocean. Hands down, the ocean town is the best thing in this movie
  • Sousuke & Ponyo. They’re just so cute together!! I mean, they’re probably going to be the best childhood sweethearts. Like, ever. 
  • Ramen. Didn’t see that one coming, did you? Every time I watch this movie, I want to eat Nisshin’s Chicken Ramen. Shockingly expensive here…

5. When Marnie Was There (2014)

Rating: G, Thematic Elements

Also based on a book (that I love as well!!) WMWT chronicles the otherworldly summer of Anna, who is always on the “Outside” but meets a mysterious girl–Marnie, who changes everything. 

What I Love About This Story:

  • The Swamp House. There’s no other way to put it. 
  • Marnie. She’s just such a strange character I can’t really categorise her, but I would want to be friends with her!
  • Anna’s drawings, They’re so alive and a nice touch only the movie has. 

6. Princess Mononoke (1997)

Rating: 14A, Thematic Elements, Violence

Set in the late Muromachi period (14th century), Ashitaka, who was on his way to find a cure for a Tatarigami’s curse, finds himself in the middle of a war between the forest gods and the mining colony, Tatara…

What I Love About This Story:

  • Historical Fantasy! I like how I can’t really place the story in an exact historical period, it’s like it’s a step removed from there.
  • Ashitaka. We all wish modern guys were like him…
  • Tatara. I guess now that I think about it, it’s steam-punk! (Also, the forest. It’s purely magical–or mythical, I should say.)

7. Ocean Waves (1993)

Rating: PG, Romance, Thematic Elements

This is an older movie also based on a book that even my Mum watched when she was younger. It’s not directed by Miyazaki or Takahata, but the toned down vibes and simple storyline is still captivating. 

OW follows Taku Morisaki’s recollection of his high school days as he travels back to his hometown from Tokyo. 

What I Love About This Story:

  • Showa vibes. Okay, I should stop, but Showa is the thing for us Heisei kids. Just wait until the Reiwa gen. grows up and starts talking about Heisei like a big novelty. 
  • Obviously, the ocean. Unlike the other movies on the list, I love how faded it feels because it’s a memory of bygone days. 

8. Grave of the Firefly (1988)

Rating: PG, War, Violence, Thematic Elements

The very last one on the list is probably the most gut-wrenching one partly because it takes place during WWII head on and partly because the main charcters are children. Every summer of my elementary years, schools and after school care would show this movie as a reminder of the great Tokyo air raid, and I have not forgotten it since. 

What I Love About This Story:

  • Realism. They really went all in with this movie, and it tends to get scary for younger audiences because of it, but I think it was necessary.
  • Sakuma drops. Literally every kid in Japan will buy one can at one point in their lives and keep it for eternity. Plus, it’s really good!
  • Fireflies. The way they wove it into the story is just… I can’t even. 

And that’s about it for now!

Thank you for reading! Have you watched any of these movies? Do you like Studio Ghibli? (It’s a loaded question, lol.) Tell me your thoughts & questions you’d like to ask me about my upcoming blogiversary below! I’d love to chat with you!!

12 Sci-Fi Books & Movies List

Hullo, world! 

Yesterday, we went on an impromptu hike. I wasn’t expecting us to go to a 600+ metres peak, and the snow (apparently Vancouver is also Canada) and the clouds and basically everything. Well, it was gorgeous up there (albeit freezing), so I’m glad I went. I’m even more glad I’m back home typing this at my favourite desk. 

Anyhow. 

A lot of things happened this week, but one thing in particular reminded me how much I loved sci-fi, of all things. I know, weirdness. But sometimes there’s this thought that might pop up–Hey, I really love having bath and listening to podcasts or Mozart’s Requiem–and you kind of go on dreaming about it. So I’ve come up with a 12 Sci-Fi Books & Movies List

Without further ado, let us dive into the speculative and scientific…

1. Illuminae Files

Contents: Language, Violence, Thematic Elements, &c. (sorry, I don’t recall everything…just be reminded it’s kind of  intense)

Rating: PG15

This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do. This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

The year is 2575, and two rival mega-corporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than a speck at the edge of the universe. Now with enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra — who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to evacuate with a hostile warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. A plague has broken out and is mutating with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a web of data to find the truth, it’s clear the only person who can help her is the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again.

Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents — including emails, maps, files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more — Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.

Okay, if you haven’t read this series yet, THEN WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN DOING WITH YOUR LIFE???

Jokes aside, it’s probably my fav. sci-fi books, like, ever. There are some content warnings (i. e. language, although it’s crossed out) so I wouldn’t recommend it if you’re under fifteen, but this book’s for you even if you might normally not like space operas. I loathe space operas, and this is my fav. sci-fi book. Go figure. Plus, AIDAN. (Legit got me hooked on Mozart’s Requiem, which is what I’m listening to right now.)

2. Insignia

Contents: Language, Violence, Thematic Elements, &c. 

Rating: PG13

The earth is in the middle of WWIII in Insignia, the first entry in S. J. Kincaid’s fast-paced sci-fi adventure trilogy is perfect for fans of Ender’s Game.

The planet’s natural resources are almost gone, and war is being fought to control the assets of the solar system. The enemy is winning. The salvation may be Tom Raines. Tom doesn’t seem like a hero. He’s a short fourteen-year-old with bad skin. But he has the virtual-reality gaming skills that make him a phenom behind the controls of the battle drones.

As a new member of the Intrasolar Forces, Tom’s life completely changes. Suddenly, he’s someone important. He has new opportunities, friends, and a shot at having a girlfriend. But there’s a price to pay. . . .

This is the other sci-fi book I’ve read more than once. It’s been about two years since I last  re-read it, so my memory’s a bit foggy, but I loved the vibes of the story–hacking, check, corporate espionage and wars, check, weird teenagers, check–so I’d heartily recommend it if that’s the kind of thing you like. I mean, lots of weirdness and tech and military-esque-stuff. 

3. Cinder

Contents: Romance, thematic elements

Rating: PG

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless Lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. . . . Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg.

She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future. 

I recently read the first book of the Lunar Chronicles and absolutely fell in love with it. It’s mostly clean, I love all things cyborg–I mean, come on, it’s a sci-fi fairytale retelling! And it’s  Marissa Meyer. Nothing can go wrong with this setting. 

4. LIFE L1K3

Contents: Language, Violence, Thematic Elements, &c. 

Rating: PG15

It’s just another day on the Scrap: lose the last of your credits at the WarDome, dodge the gangs and religious fanatics, discover you can destroy electronics with your mind, stumble upon the deadliest robot ever built When Eve finds the ruins of an android boy named Ezekiel in the scrap pile she calls home, her entire world comes crashing down. With her best friend and her robotic sidekick in tow, she and Ezekiel will trek across deserts of irradiated glass, battle cyborg assassins, and scour abandoned megacities to save the ones she loves and learn the dark secrets of her past.

Fans of Jay Kristoff, the Romanov family, androids and nuclear-scarred landscape, unite! I got to read this book as an ARC and I just devoured it in one sitting. What I love about this book is that it doesn’t read like a normal sci-fi, despite the setting. Obviously I’m kind of obsessed with Russian history, so I loved the undertone vibe to it. Plus, there’s a girl named Lemon Fresh. Why wouldn’t I love this book? 

5. Warcross

Contents: Some violence, Thematic Elements, LGBTQ2+, romance, &c. 

Rating: PG13

For the millions who log in every day, Warcross isn’t just a game—it’s a way of life.

The obsession started ten years ago and its fan base now spans the globe, some eager to escape from reality and others hoping to make a profit. Struggling to make ends meet, teenage hacker Emika Chen works as a bounty hunter, tracking down Warcross players who bet on the game illegally. But the bounty hunting world is a competitive one, and survival has not been easy. To make some quick cash, Emika takes a risk and hacks into the opening game of the international Warcross Championships—only to accidentally glitch herself into the action and become an overnight sensation.

Convinced she’s going to be arrested, Emika is shocked when instead she gets a call from the game’s creator, the elusive young billionaire Hideo Tanaka, with an irresistible offer. He needs a spy on the inside of this year’s tournament in order to uncover a security problem . . . and he wants Emika for the job. With no time to lose, Emika’s whisked off to Tokyo and thrust into a world of fame and fortune that she’s only dreamed of. But soon her investigation uncovers a sinister plot, with major consequences for the entire Warcross empire.

Marie Lu’s a boss when it comes to YA sci-fi, but I’m really picky about books. Especially books set in Tokyo. *stares* Either a book captures Japan and its culture or it doesn’t. End of story. 

Warcross is the other book I’ll cradle in my arms and cry over. I just loved the neon city vibes–it brought back so many memories!! And I mean, Hideo is super hot. (Okay, I’ve got to admit, this and his family’s backstory that ties into bk2 is just…perfect.) And it’s one of those big corporate settings. I guess I really love slightly sinister organisations, sabotage, and espionage-vibes. 🙂

6. Space Trilogy

Contents: Violence, Some gore, Thematic Elements, (one lesbian person?)

Rating: PG13

OUT OF THE SILENT PLANET

Dr Ransom, a Cambridge academic, is abducted and taken on a spaceship to the red planet of Malacandra, which he knows as Mars. His captors are plotting to plunder the planet’s treasures and offer Ransom as a sacrifice to the creatures who live there…

PERELANDRA

Having escaped from Mars, Dr Ransom is called to the paradise planet of Perelandra, or Venus. When his old enemy also arrives and is taken over by the forces of evil, Ransom finds himself in a desperate struggle to save the innocence of this Eden-like world…

THAT HIDEOUS STRENGTH

Investigating the truth about her prophetic dreams, Anne Studdock encounters the fabled Dr Ransom, who is in great pain after his travels. A sinister society run by his old adversaries intends to harness the ancient powers of a resurrected Merlin in their ambition to subjugate the people of Earth…

Didn’t think I’d pull a Lewis on you? Think again. (Obviously I’ll try to sneak a C. S. Lewis book in a given book list.) I just love the way his Space Trilogy is layered. Out of the Silent Planet is definitely the most old-schooled sci-fi of the three, almost reading like a Wells book, but with a decidedly theological twist that somehow works. 

Perelandra is almost Miltonian in a sense, but the action towards the end is  pretty break-neck. 

That Hideous Strength, without a doubt, is my favourite ST book. I think one can also classify it as a dystopian with an English countryside-dark academia vibe to it. Not quite Orwellian (because obviously it’s Christian in its outlook), but shockingly contemporary in its themes and contents. A must-read. 

7. Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World

Contents: Violence, Thematic Elements, some graphic contents (I think?)

Rating: R18+

In this hyperkinetic and relentlessly inventive novel, Japan’s most popular (and controversial) fiction writer hurtles into the consciousness of the West. Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World draws readers into a narrative particle accelerator in which a split-brained data processor, a deranged scientist, his shockingly undemure granddaughter, Lauren Bacall, Bob Dylan, and various thugs, librarians, and subterranean monsters collide to dazzling effect. What emerges is simultaneously cooler than zero and unaffectedly affecting, a hilariously funny and deeply serious meditation on the nature and uses of the mind.

If you haven’t noticed it yet, I love sci-fi books that are philosophical at its heart. And, I’m also a Murakami fan. 

This is the second or third book I read, and it’s definitely my fav. Murakami book. I love how vague and otherworldly this story is although I can trace faint outlines of normal Tokyo I know. Except it isn’t. This book isn’t for young audiences, however, so I’d caution that. (But I think it’s milder than other Murakami books, IDK.)

8. The Alex Crow

Contents: Violence, Gore, Thematic Elements, Actual War, some graphic contents, &c. 

Rating: PG15

Once again blending multiple story strands that transcend time and place, Grasshopper Jungle author Andrew Smith tells the story of 15-year-old Ariel, a refugee from the Middle East who is the sole survivor of an attack on his small village. Now living with an adoptive family in Sunday, West Virginia, Ariel’s story of his summer at a boys’ camp for tech detox is juxtaposed against those of a schizophrenic bomber and the diaries of a failed arctic expedition from the late nineteenth century. Oh, and there’s also a depressed bionic reincarnated crow.

I know I mentioned this book in another one of my book lists, but now that I think about it, it does have a decidedly sci-fi vibe to it so I’ve taken it up again! I love the convoluted timelines and Ariel’s story (which is heartbreaking) as well as the bizarreness of the expedition diaries. There’s this invisible scientific corporation undertone that’s also really chilling. 

9. Wilder Girls

Contents: Violence, Gore, Thematic Elements, LGBTQ2+

Rating: PG15

It’s been eighteen months since the Raxter School for Girls was put under quarantine. Since the Tox hit and pulled Hetty’s life out from under her.

It started slow. First the teachers died one by one. Then it began to infect the students, turning their bodies strange and foreign. Now, cut off from the rest of the world and left to fend for themselves on their island home, the girls don’t dare wander outside the school’s fence, where the Tox has made the woods wild and dangerous. They wait for the cure they were promised as the Tox seeps into everything.

But when Byatt goes missing, Hetty will do anything to find her, even if it means breaking quarantine and braving the horrors that lie beyond the fence. And when she does, Hetty learns that there’s more to their story, to their life at Raxter, than she could have ever thought true.

I did a review of this book I was going to post on my blog but never did. (I think I posted a short version on Goodreads.) Which, btw, expresses my sentiments well. 

But I wanted to include this book on this list because the situation is absolutely delectable. Like, an all-girls school that’s cut off from the rest of the world? An unknown illness that decomposes a person from the inside out (flowers budding from your arm, that kind of thing)? Um, I’d totally read it. And although it could be better, I really do love the setting. So if that kind of thing’s your cup of tea, go for it!

10. Anomaly

Contents: Thematic Elements, romance, &c. 

Rating: PG

Thalli has fifteen minutes and twenty-three seconds left to live. The toxic gas that will complete her annihilation is invading her bloodstream. But she is not afraid.

Thalli is different than others in The State. She feels things. She asks questions. And in the State, this is not tolerated. The Ten scientists who survived the nuclear war that destroyed the world above believe that emotion was at the core of what went wrong—and they have genetically removed it from the citizens they have since created. Thalli has kept her malformation secret from those who have monitored her for most of her life, but when she receives an ancient piece of music to record as her community’s assigned musician, she can no longer keep her emotions secreted away.

Seen as a threat to the harmony of her Pod, Thalli is taken to the Scientists for immediate annihilation. But before that can happen, Berk—her former Pod mate who is being groomed as a Scientist—steps in and persuades the Scientists to keep Thalli alive as a test subject.

The more time she spends in the Scientist’s Pod, the clearer it becomes that things are not as simple as she was programmed to believe. She hears stories of a Designer—stories that fill her mind with more questions: Who can she trust? What is this emotion called love? And what if she isn’t just an anomaly, but part of a greater design?

I think this is the first Christian YA sci-fi I’ve read that was simply stunning. Like, I’d suffered through the whole Christian-contemporary-fiction-sucks stage, lots of despairing remarks, salvage attempts, tears (“Why can’t Christian books be awesome like non-Christian books??”) &c, and here’s a book that completely disrupts that. I debated a bit whether to put it in dystopian or sci-fi but think at its heart it’s sci-fi. Also, any book with a classical musician/music paired with science will not fail me. At least, I believe so. 😉

11. Inception

Contents: Violence, Thematic Elements, &c. 

Rating: PG-13

I know I promised you movies, and this ends up being the first out of twelve mentioned. 

But. 

I kind of have a love-hate relationship with sci-fi movies in general, and Inception’s about the only movie I’ll recommend without any hesitation. I mean, I read a follow-up book, Inception & Philosophy. I have Inception fanart on my walls. I dream about re-watching Inception every opportunity I get. Yes, I’m obsessed with it. 

12. Matrix

Contents: Violence, Some gore, Thematic Elements, Graphic scenes, &c. 

Rating: R18

Like the Wilder Girls, I have mixed feelings about this movie. I loved the first one, the second one’s a bit iffy, and it does kind of recover in the third one, but even writing about it makes me pause. I guess it’s one of  those movies I have a love-hate relationship with bordering on the negative side. 

Yet it is a really interesting conversation with philosophy. science, and cognitive systems (die-hard topic for me), so I obviously wouldn’t miss it. Would not recommend anyone under fifteen the youngest watching it. 

So that’s it! Thanks for reading so far. 

Are you a fan of sci-fi? What’s your favourite sci-fi book/movie? Do you like any of the sci-fi books/movies in this list? Let me know in the comments below; I’d love to chat with you!